How Well Are You Listening?
I’m convinced whether you’re a ministry leader, a marketplace leader, whether you’re a pastor, whether you own a small business, whether you teach a school, whether you're a stay-at-home mom, wherever you are in your life journey, if you’re leading people, this one small truth can change everything. It is learning to listen. As leaders, we love to talk and we love problems and we love to jump in with our big ideas and we love to let everybody know what needs to be done and we often neglect the skill of listening.
If you want to know the difference between a good leader and a great leader, it often boils down to your communication skills. Good leaders are good communicators. One of the best ways to communicate is to learn to listen. A lot of times we get a leadership position, and we assume that gives us a license to increase our volume and start talking more; that is not the case. Remember, if good leaders are good communicators, if great leaders are great communicators, if poor leaders are poor communicators, then I have got to grow my communication skills. If I am going to grow my communication skills, then I have got to learn to listen. Why? Because great communication is more than just broadcasting a message, it is creating engagement. The only way to get engagement with someone or a group of people is to begin listening. So here's my question for you today….how well are you doing listening? How well are you doing listening to your boss or your board, or whoever you are listening to? Are you listening even between the lines? Listen to what your boss is saying and what your boss isn't saying, because bosses often speak between the lines, so you have to learn to listen to what is not being said.
How well are you doing listening to your employees? Are you listening or are you constantly just talking to them about what needs to be done, and hey what's our game plan for the day, and don't forget to do this, or are you taking time to ask good questions and listen? What about those of you that work with a team of volunteers; you’re a non-profit leader, or you’re a pastor or a ministry leader. Volunteers are the life-blood of your organization. How well are you listening to them? How well are you engaging in good conversations to hear how things are going? What's going on in your life, what's going on in your world, how can I serve you better, how can I make your job easier for you? How well are you doing listening to your wife, your husband, your kids? This impacts EVERY area of my life.
I have to learn to be a good listener and it starts with choosing to listen. Maybe you need to actually schedule on your calendar times to listen. Maybe you just need to block some 15- minute times where you walk around and ask some questions, not about their job, but questions about their life. Maybe I need to block in some time where I send text messages, I make some phone calls, I walk down the hallway and I just ask questions. Remember the old saying “people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.” One of the greatest ways to show someone that you genuinely care is to listen. Eat the Frog first. Mark Twain said if you eat a live frog first thing in the morning, everything after that is going to go better. For some of you that is difficult. Find someone to talk to and engage in conversation. Send text messages, make some phone calls, before your kids leave for school, listen. Before your spouse leaves for work, listen. The better you listen, the better you lead. Remember, it all starts with a decision to listen more, to listen better, and to listen with great clarity.
Your #1 fan,